More Chinese players need European experience, says striker Wu

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Soccer Football - World Cup - Asia Qualifiers - Second Round - Group A - China v Syria - Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates - June 15, 2021 China's Wu Lei applauds fans after the match REUTERS/Christopher Pike

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Sept 10 (Reuters) - China striker Wu Lei has called on more of his compatriots to move to Europe to help the country close the gap on Asia's leading national teams.

The Espanyol forward featured in China's World Cup qualifying losses to Australia and Japan as Li Tie's side slipped to the bottom of Group B in Asian qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

"Unfortunately I did not perform well in those two games, both the results and processes of which made us more aware of the gap between the top Asian teams and us," Wu posted on social media.

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"Beside me is almost the whole Japanese team of players who are preparing to return to their respective European clubs.

"The gap between China and Asian top teams is really big, which we have to face up to.

"More than once I called on our players to come to Europe to get a feel of its football atmosphere and surroundings."

The 29-year-old is the only current member of Li's squad playing in Europe, with few prepared to move overseas in recent years due to the lucrative salaries on offer from Chinese Super League clubs.

President Xi Jinping has previously pledged to turn the country in a "football power" but China have not qualified for the World Cup since making their debut appearance in 2002.

Li said after the Japan loss in Doha on Tuesday that his side were struggling to keep up with the pace of the top Asian teams and it was something they needed to improve.

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Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Editing by Peter Rutherford

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